5 Best Friday Columns

Art is alive, paranoia is good, and Paul Krugman really dislikes Sen. McConnell

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  • Roger Cohen on Obsession with the Past  Recalling his time spent in the Balkans and Germany, the columnist writes "I learned a few things over the corpses and plum brandy. The first was how blinding victimhood can be: the historical victim ... cannot see when he becomes the chief perpetrator of violence. The second was that nothing forges national identity ... faster than persecution." His twin points: the dead should not be able to outvote the living, and neither Jews nor Palestinians have a real "right of return." He praises Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's work in the West Bank: "A non-violent Palestinian approach is an eloquent way of saying today's children matter more than olive groves three generations distant."
  • Paul Krugman Takes on Sen. McConnell's Opposition to Financial Reform  Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell recently began attacking Democratic efforts at financial reform, saying they moved towards "institutionaliz[ing]" bank bailouts. McConnell's dead wrong, says Krugman in The New York Times, but more than that, he's insincere:
The Obama administration wants tighter regulation of derivatives, while Republicans are opposed. And that tells you everything you need to know ... When Mitch McConnell denounces big bank bailouts, what he’s really trying to do is give the bankers everything they want.
  • Rich Lowry on the American Tradition of Paranoia  Are Tea Partiers nuts? Maybe, but so is Naomi Wolf, argues conservative Lowry, quoting the liberal author on how America is turning from "an open society into a dictatorship." He argues that "paranoia about government is woven into the American fabric, on both the left and the right." Why? "It is written in our political DNA, inherited from the most glorious paranoiacs the world has ever known--our Founding Fathers." When "properly directed and honed, it's a healthy reflex."
  • The Boston Globe Cheers: Quality Writing Still Sells  Pulitzer-prize winning novel Tinkers, written by Paul Harding, almost didn't get published. The author had no "in" to the industry. Now, though, Tinkers is "the first book from a small publisher to win the Pulitzer in almost 30 years." The Globe editors step back and say this, actually, is a big victory for art in a world of advertising:
Harding's rich prose drove some people to weep and many others to proselytize. And while the publishing industry remains glutted with celebrity authors, movie tie-ins, niche marketing schemes and Twittery sales gimmicks, it’s worth remembering that some novels are still good enough to sell themselves.
  • Peter Manseau on the Catholic Abuse Scandal and Forgiveness  In The Washington Post, Manseau tells a highly personal tale of his mother's abuse at the hands of a priest, and how she came to find closure. He's not asking for heads to roll. But, he says, "if the Vatican truly wants to do penance, absolution should not be sought in the secrecy of the confessional but in the open air of the pews."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.